Debbie Yow Q&A, part III

Matt Carter, Editor
The Wolfpacker

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NC State media relations

Earlier Tuesday, The Wolfpacker released parts I and II of our interview with NC State Director of Athletics Debbie Yow.

Link: Debbie Yow Q&A, part I

Link: Debbie Yow Q&A, part II

In part III, the final installment, of our interview, Yow covers officiating in the ACC, ongoing and potential construction projects, the potential for alcohol sales at football games, an overseas trip in basketball and her own future at NCSU.

You have calls like those against Texas or when Terry Henderson was ruled to have stepped out of bounds in the basketball game with Wake Forest when replays showed he didn’t. What recourse does athletics have in those scenarios?

“The course of action is limited and fairly specific. The first thing you can do is send the film. We do that religiously. There are lots of times when the league sends back its responses and will agree largely with what we said.

“After you do that, the next step is trying to have conversations as a group of coaches and a group of athletic directors about overall officiating quality and how it can be improved, then meeting with the directors of officiating in our league office.

“I will say that the people in place now at the league office in those positions are excellent in terms of understanding their own sports and their own experiences as officials.

“They do, in fact, make changes in officials, and they share the numbers with us every year. They don’t list the names, but they’ll list something like 35 received excellent ratings, 12 got good ratings and six of them won’t be back. I think that there are changes that are being made. They are slow to make the changes because everybody complains about officiating.

“You named a couple of specific instances that are not judgment calls. We have the video.

“The third part of this, after the video and discussion among coaches, are the individual calls from coaches and ADs to the league office, and we’re very aggressive in that regard.

“That probably doesn’t surprise you, but we’re always going to express our displeasure because this is really about fairness to the student-athletes.

“Forget what you think about NC State, this is about the student-athletes having a fair and equitable opportunity to win the contest.”

You mentioned volleyball, but what among the non-revenue sports highlighted the year for you?

“A few sports come to mind. What Braden Holloway has done and continues to do in men’s and women’s swimming is extraordinary. His recruiting continues to go well, including internationally.

“Add to that we have the oldest pool in the ACC, but as Braden said to me in his interview five years ago, ‘It’s not a problem, Debbie. Water is wet, and we’ll be fine.’ He was right. That’s not going to stop him.

“Wrestling had another solid year, and Coach Pop [Pat Popolizio] is committed to excellence every year.

“Add to the list getting to the Sweet Sixteen in women’s soccer, winning our bowl game and beating UNC in Chapel Hill in football, winning three ACC Championships — the list continues to grow.”

What is the latest on Case Commons, the dormitory for men’s and women’s basketball players and other NC State students?

“We hired Kevin and he is now involved in the process. It has been backed up one year. It’ll open in August of 2019 instead of August of 2018. The good part about that is he has an opportunity for his own input in the process, and I think that will turn out to be very valuable.”

What’s the latest on the ACC Network studio project?

“We’ve finished the design, and we’re ready to go. Originally we were going to break ground in January of 2018, but now we’re now planning to do it in November of 2018.

“It’ll be up and running, and everything will be good. We have to hire four full-time people. Jerry Wetzel is the first one. He’s our new Head of Video, and he’ll run the whole place. He was at the University of Florida and also worked for ESPN. He and senior associate AD Fred Demarest knew one another from their days at UF.

“I also knew Jerry 25 years ago, but probably hadn’t spoken to him since then, until he showed up for his interview here. He’s talented, and he’ll hire three additional people to run the broadcast studio and production initiatives.

“It’s expensive to do what we’re doing, and there is no advance funding from the Network, so we have to figure this out for ourselves.

“I understand it’s necessary, but I’m a little annoyed that it takes away from some other projects that we would like to pursue for various teams. That said, I won’t feel that way the first time we get a check from the network.”

It’s still planned to be in the Murphy Center?

“When we built the Murphy Center, Coach [Chuck] Amato was an avid racquetball player and a racquetball court was installed. It has stood vacant for a number of years.

“Now, we are reconfiguring that space, along with other space. It’s going to be a magnificent addition. A number of schools in the ACC need to build the structure itself, but we are able to stay in the current building envelope of Murphy, or the $6.6 million would have ended up being $9 or 10 million.”

Are there any other projects on the bucket list?

“Upgrades for baseball are desired and football could use a refresh of the sports medicine unit in the Murphy Center. Case Commons and the ACC studio are right there.

“We need at some point to go back over to the east side of Carter-Finley Stadium, which has not really been touched since 1966. [Wolfpack Club executive director] Bobby [Purcell] and I have talked about this some, and at some point we’d like to see something special happen there and in the north end zone.

“We are also continuing to talk about the possibility of serving alcohol in the bowl. We would never approach that alone because it requires a change in state law to do this. That would mean we would need partners in that endeavor — ECU, UNC-CH.”

“If and when that was approved, we would need to have a place to serve, and we don’t really have that right now. We would need to expand our perimeter concourses.

“When we played at Louisville a couple years ago they had added what I would call a beer garden in their end zone, as an example. They extended their perimeter so there was plenty of space for people to walk and sit. That’s a possibility at some point.”

Are you moving toward supporting alcohol sales if other in-state schools would support it?

“I have come a long ways in that regard. I always had to think about the issues of someone being in a sporting event and drinking too much, but then I thought, ‘We already have that. That happens every game, and I see it when I get the postgame report.’

“Could it actually get better? I really don’t know. That’s what West Virginia’s study showed. They actually have fewer arrests now for public drunkenness. They think it’s because they are serving it in the bowl.”

Could you then envision there being changes to the halftime pass-outs?

“One of the interesting things about halftime pass outs is the assumption that people make. The assumption is that if we stop halftime pass outs, then fewer people would leave the game. We have no statistical data to back that up.

“What we have right now is on average 15,000 people leaving at halftime. They leave Carter-Finley Stadium, but 7,000 of them come back. If we make a no pass-out rule, and let’s say 12,000 instead of 15,000 people leave, but then no one could come back because we told them they can’t.

“Tell me how that helps the football program if there are fewer people in the stands. I would want to have our director of analytics look at what metrics we should consider, what studies we should be conducting and how do we determine whether or not this would actually produce a result that our coaches and student-athletes would like, which is more people being there at the beginning of the third quarter.

“That would be the worst possible outcome, that we tried to make it better and made it worse.

“We have the best tailgating in the country. I think people treasure their tailgating and the opportunity to see their friends. It’s really special, so we need to be very careful how we manage this.”

Is the basketball team going overseas this summer?

“Yes, they are going to Italy on Aug. 2.”

There is talk about you stepping down in 2019. Where does that stand?

“I have a contract through July 15, 2019, but I’m not thinking about retirement. I’m not slowing down.

“Today is no different than seven years ago. I just ask one question every morning: What can we do today that makes NC State athletics better than it’s ever been?

“That is a full-time challenge, and my passion is to represent as well as possible one of the most dedicated group of alums and friends of any Power Five school.”

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